Category Archives: Uncategorized

Social media & publication impact

I regularly hear librarians say that promoting one’s research with social media increases impact, including publication impact. I haven’t read a lot in the area but what I do read leaves me thinking that I don’t understand enough to make a judgement for myself, and are there impact differences according to discipline (particularly for the Engineerings, Spatial Sciences & Urban & Regional Planning – the disciplines with which I work)?

So, over time (beginning today), I’m collating literature here, & I’m going to have a look at it. Where the statistical input is beyond me (which will probably be my default position), I’m going to ask a statistician for her view of the value of the study.

And, a researcher & I are also going to see if we can leverage social media to increase the impact of his work (citations & clinical value & up-take).

…………………………………

Well, I looked at the literature & those who are suggesting to clients that social media increases citation numbers really aren’t people to whom I should be listening. But, there certainly looks to be evidence that this could change over time & my approach needs to be about setting up for the longer term when it comes to citation impact & looking at other possible impacts – in my researcher’s case, helping promote the possibilities of his research in multi-disciplinary research partnerships, clinical impact & consumer health impact, & how his communication style needs to adapt to these different audiences.

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Another go at blogging

This is my third attempt at blogging. I see it as a really useful thing to do but am always overwhelmed by all the other things to do. Let’s see how this one goes – I really want to have a better record of my critical reflections & other thoughts.

Personal pedagogy and its influence on my info lit teaching work: An anecdote

Anecdotes are a great way to help us unpack the personal pedagogies with which we work.

Here’s my anecdote:

It’s six weeks ago at 9:15am and five people are sitting in a library computer lab. We’re reading a journal article and it’s quiet. Everyone is reading and sipping from their water bottles or takeaway coffee cups (I know, I know – we’re not supposed to have coffee in the lab but I’ve bent the rule for the circumstances).

As well as the article, each of us has a page of literature evaluation criteria. We are reading an article on the history of sustainability and evaluating it according to the criteria. Four of us have clean, fresh articles and one of us has notes scrawled over her copy. The person with the not-so-fresh copy is me.

I am the teacher (and the students’ liaison librarian). The other four are first year undergraduate Urban and Regional Planning students.

In front of me sits Kathleen, a quietly confident school leaver. Nearby sits Margaret who is about twenty years older, vivacious and at the beginning of a journey to a new career. Behind Margaret is Eric. Eric is young and gives nothing away. He was late to the session today, but much later yesterday (so I’m counting my blessings there). Behind Kathleen is Ethel. Ethel is about the same age as Margaret and she is quietly and actively engaged in the session.

I don’t wonder, even once, about how Margaret and Ethel are going. I do wonder about Eric. He is typing on the computer and I wonder whether he is on his Facebook page. But, something inside tells me not to stroll by him and I think, “He might be typing up his evaluation notes … at least he’s not texting on his phone … we’re sharing our evaluations with each other in a few minutes, he knows that”.

Then I look at Kathleen and I am taken back thirty years. I see myself standing among the book shelves in Central Library at the University of Queensland. It seems quite dark and every book I pick up discusses things that happened before I was alive or when I was a child. I can’t quite connect with what’s in these books and I’m feeling that I’m not quite learning what I should. I come back to the present, look at Kathleen, and wonder if she feels like I did thirty years ago. I think, “I doubt it. She’s confident and a thinker”.

Eric is no longer typing, and it’s time to share our evaluations.

And, here’s what I think the anecdote reveals about my personal pedagogy:

  • Connecting with the students as people and learners is important to me – it’s about empathy. After Kathleen shared her evaluation, we explored it a little further as a group and I shared my memory. My sharing led her to reveal that she was also feeling this way which reassured her and created interest from the other students – we began communicating even more as five people rather than four students and one teacher
  • Which leads me to something else that I think is important – that I learn much from the students with whom I work and I really value that as a teacher, a librarian and a person. As a librarian it’s critical as it helps me learn basic things about the disciplines that I support and so improves my liaison work as a whole. It also influences how I work with clients in reference interviews
  • I thought that I had overcome an insecurity that used to pop up in my teaching sometimes but it’s still there & can rear its head under the right circumstances. I really care about the learning opportunities that I create for students and I care deeply about their learning, but that can lead me to focus on me rather than the students. That showed up in my worries about Eric – was he on Facebook instead of doing the work? I really, really thought that he would  be on Facebook but it turned out that he was typing up his evaluation; and a very unique and though-provoking evaluation it was. I was  worried that he wasn’t engaged with the learning activity that I created???? That shouldn’t be!!!!
  • Which leads me to another issue. I grew up learning to value independence, and the level of connectedness that comes with constant accessing of phones and Facebook is something that I struggle to deal with sometimes. I don’t understand what it feels like to need to connected like that and so I have to be very conscious of challenging my instincts as I don’t have that empathy to help guide my responses to such dependent behaviour.

Sustaining professional vitality

Professional and working life can be tough sometimes and vitality can become difficult to sustain. And, things can seem even trickier when you don’t quite fit into the dominant mould of your profession or workplace, or if life seems to be at a personal ebb.

The Courage to Teach is a fabulous approach when renewal feels necessary. You can replace “teach” with any professional role. I was introduced to Parker Palmer’s book by the same name in a couple of postgraduate Education courses. It’s one of those fabulous reads that you dip into again and again over time.

Intrator & Kunzman (2006, p. 21) talk about professional renewal as “a concern with authenticity, a negotiation of personal identity and purpose with the work and context of one’s” professional practice. And, they suggest an exploration of the question, “How should I allocate my energy in ways that are consistent with the deepest values that I have about myself as apracticing professional and as “a person?”.

Intrator, SM & Kunzman, R 2006, ‘The person in the profession: renewing teacher vitality through professional development’, The Educational Forum, vol. 71, pp. 16-32.

Palmer, PJ 2007, The courage to teach: exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

What is a librarian?

I suspect that there are many answers to this question and they depend on the librarian’s professional ontology or a library user or non-user’s experiences and perceptions of librarians and libraries.

For many years, the word “information” featured in my description of the librarian that I am. I was never quite comfortable with this but it seemed acceptable to the profession and I couldn’t find an alternative. In the last few years I have found a description that is really meaningful for me.

The librarian that I am is a partner in knowledge development/creation and knowledge sharing. This is really important to my practice as it puts my clients and potential clients at the centre of my practice. And, that is important because it helps me ensure that I provide the kind of services that my clients want and need from me, and it helps me keep my mind open to new things that I might do to make my service relevant to people who have yet to use my services.

It also means that I don’t see my practice as a list of jobs to do. With workloads as overwhelming as they are, I think that this is a trap into which it is easy to fall. And, it puts the librarian at the centre of practice which is problematic for me.